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To the Class of 2020

Father of a graduating senior pens a letter to his daughter.

Keith Surface is the father of Maegan, a high school senior who will receive her diploma in ceremonies later this summer. The following is his letter to his daughter, and her fellow graduates.

Dear Maegan,

Congratulations on this tremendous accomplishment! What a year this has been for you. No doubt this is not the senior year you envisioned. You ended the semester completing assignments from home, all the while missing traditional rites of passage such as spring sports, banquets, prom, and award ceremonies.

Now you prepare to walk the stage to receive your diploma, hopefully later this summer (if the ceremony can safely take place). As your dad, I have witnessed firsthand some of the highs and lows of this odd season you’ve lived through. In these days of uncertainty, with the future still unclear, what advice can I offer as you head into the world? The Bible provides the only clear and relevant message:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths (Proverbs 3:5,6, ESV).

Known as a book of wisdom, Proverbs helps us find direction.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

Remember during your trip to Chicago how stepping onto the Willis Tower skydeck took some courage as you looked down on the city through the clear glass floor some 103 stories above ground. Though engineers had ensured the attraction’s safety, you couldn’t help but wonder if the glass might break. Was it trustworthy?

With God, we don’t have to wonder. We can depend completely upon Him without fear. The Bible reminds us why. God is eternal. He’s always existed and always will. We need only to look at the beauty of a sunset, ocean waves, or a peaceful spring day to see His handiwork. The Bible declares how God knows everything, can do all things, and is present everywhere. Trust in God is not wishful thinking, but rather a confidence in Him who controls all things.

The writer of Hebrews says, “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). As you’ve already experienced, life is full of many challenges, but we can be encouraged and hopeful because we trust in our loving Lord. As you continue your journey, always trust God in every situation. Grow in your relationship with Him by spending time in prayer and Bible study. He has promised that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us (James 4:8).

Remember the words of the prophet Jeremiah: “Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him,” (Jeremiah 17:7).

Do not lean on your own understanding

Many well-meaning people today tell you to “believe in yourself and your abilities and you’ll do great things.” Certainly, you’ve worked hard to reach graduation, but the Bible cautions against the danger of trusting in our own understanding and abilities. Instead, Scripture reminds us to consider the source:

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…” (James 1:17).

This is a good moment to thank God for the talents He has given that have enabled you to achieve all that you have. Now, continue to trust Him, asking that He will lead you into the plans He has for you.

“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

Pursue your dreams, but put God first. And, be willing to let go of your plans if He asks. God may have greater things than you can imagine in store. He may want to do more with your life than you can envision. Remember that His ways are far higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9) and He knows what He is doing.

So, keep praying. Keep dreaming. Keep working hard. As Augustine of Hippo said, “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”

In all your ways acknowledge Him

In recent years, a popular movement has arisen among prominent Christian athletes and other personalities to publicly declare, “I am second.” No matter their status or achievements, they affirm that Christ is their highest priority.

That’s what the writer of Proverbs says. Always put God first. Acknowledge Him in every area of life. As you’ll soon discover, there will be many opportunities to minimize your faith. Temptations may come in the form of unhealthy relationships that do not honor God, a need for money that places a job above faithful church involvement, or stress to cut corners or cheat on assignments as you work toward a college degree.

Sadly, many young adults abandon their religious beliefs in the years right after high school. No doubt you know some who have done so.

So, love the Lord with all your heart, mind, and soul (Matthew 22:37). Surround yourself with other Christians. Find a healthy church where God’s Word is preached and taught. Join a Bible study. Place a support system around you to help you stay focused.

He will direct your paths

God promises that as you trust Him completely, rather than yourself, and submit to Him in every area, He will direct you. God will bring you into the incredible plans that He was for you. He will open doors to ministry or careers you could not have created on your own. As someone who is older and has lived longer, I can assure you that you will one day look back on what God has done and say, “Wow, only He could have brought that about!”

God’s Word offers many promises we can trust:

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).

“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:3).

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

God will indeed direct you. That doesn’t mean life will always be easy. It won’t. But, even in the trying times, you’ll know the comfort of the Holy Spirit and the assurance that God can handle the difficulties.

As a baby, your mom and I dedicated you to God. We have daily prayed for you these 18 years, encouraged you in God’s Word, and done our best to live out faith in front of you. We now release you to the plans God has for you to go shine for Him in the world. Keep trusting Him always, submitting to Him in every area, and watch how God will amaze you.

Keith Surface

Keith Surface is manager for AG News and public relations for the Assemblies of God. He is a graduate of Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) and the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. Keith is an adjunct instructor of church history for SAGU. A licensed minister with the Assemblies of God, he regularly teaches and preaches in local churches. Keith and his wife, Melanie, have four children and live in Ozark, Missouri.